Cult Fictions

In a letter submitted to The New Republic and never published, Sonu Shamsasani criticizes Richard Wolin's review of Richard Noll's The Aryan Christ.


 

"The following letter was submitted for publication to the The New Republic, and not printed.
Dear Sir,

In his review of Richard Noll's The Aryan Christ, Richard Wolin states that Jung referred to the case which I called the Solar Phallus Man in his 1959 BBC interview as "first having convinced him of the reality of the collective unconscious" (The New Republic, October 27, 1997). In the actual interview, John Freeman asked Jung, "Is there any one case that you can now look back on and feel that perhaps it was the turning point of your thought?" Jung replied "Oh yes, I had quite a number of experiences of that sort, and I even went to Washington to study Negroes at the psychiatric clinic there... in order to find out whether they had the same type of dreams as we have, and these experiences and others led me then to the hypothesis that there is an impersonal stratum in our psyche, and I can tell you an example." (C. G. Jung Speaking, ed. William McGuire and R. F. C. Hull, pp. 388-9). He then cited the Solar Phallus Man as this example. In The Jung Cult, Noll cited Freeman's question in full and simply stated that in Jung's reply, "it is the case of the Solar Phallus Man that Jung refers to." (p. 181) He did not mention Jung's initial comments, which indicated that there was no single case and that the Solar Phallus Man was simply one example.

Furthermore, Wolin cites me as stating, as Noll had done on the page of The Jung Cult just cited, that the Solar Phallus Man "carries on his shoulders the weight and burden of proof of the Collective Unconscious." The sentence, which was from my paper "A Woman called Frank" (Spring, 1990), actually stated "The Solar Phallus Man, together with other figures, carried on his shoulders the weight of the burden of proof of the Collective Unconscious" (p. 40, emphasis added). Without the omitted clause, the sentence becomes ludicrous, as one can see from Jung's actual statement. In such way do errors and miscitations circulate and proliferate.

Wolin hails Noll's work as a landmark. There are too many errors in it to be dealt with in a letter. These will be addressed in a book of mine forthcoming from Routledge, Cult Fictions: C. G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology, which will show that Noll's work should more accurately be described as marking the low-water mark of Jung studies.

Yours sincerely,

Sonu Shamdasani
Research Fellow
Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London.

Copyright 1997 Sonu Shamdasani. All rights reserved.